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National recognition for Cheshire medic

A Cheshire healthcare professional has been honored at a national awards process for pioneering a new approach to supporting care home residents in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alex Facey, a Physician Associate with the Middlewood Partnership, made a string of key changes to create a new system for supporting the consortium’s 14 care homes at the time of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, he has been highly commended at the GP Practice Awards 2020, held by medical publications Nursing in Practice, Management in Practice, Healthcare Leader, Pulse and The Pharmacist.

At the start of the crisis, before national guidance was published, Alex introduced weekly virtual ward rounds – using technology to allow GPs to assess residents remotely. He identified himself as first point of contact for care homes, freeing up colleagues for other duties.

Alex took responsibility for all paperwork following practice visits to care homes, including the recording of Covid cases. He encouraged all care homes to use a system called Patient Access to order repeat medication online. This resulted in an eightfold increase in online ordering of prescriptions and a huge reduction in the use of inefficient paper requests, faxes and requests in person.

Dr Peter Wilson, Middlewood Partnership chair, said: “Alex is a much-appreciated and valued member of our team. He underplays the level of his achievement in suggesting, designing and implementing his fantastic nursing and residential home wraparound plan over an incredibly short time, single-handedly, from a standing start.”

His words were echoed by Dr Andrew Wilson, chair of NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group: “Alex is showing great leadership in establishing a positive and proactive role for the physician associate within general practice and is clearly improving care and outcomes.”
The husband of a care home resident who later died said: “Just knowing that Alex was involved in my wife’s care was a huge comfort and reassurance to me, especially when I was unable to visit her due to the lockdown. I was extremely grateful for his care, compassion and updates.”

Physician associates are medically trained, generalist healthcare professionals who work alongside doctors and provide medical care as an integral part of a multidisciplinary team. The role of physician associate has become widespread in general practice in recent years as one of a number of occupations supporting doctors and nurses. Others include the role of advanced nurse practitioner.

The Middlewood Partnership and Primary Care Network is a merged GP practice covering the populations of Bollington, Disley and Poynton.